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Literary giants headline at February book festival

Jewish Book Week 2009 will begin and end with generous helpings of the cream of Israeli literature, Amos Oz and AB Yehoshua.

    Amos Oz
    Amos Oz

    Jewish Book Week 2009 will begin and end with generous helpings of the cream of Israeli literature, in the shape of Amos Oz, who will open the festival on February 21, and AB Yehoshua, who will close it on March 1.

    Oz will be interviewed by Guardian and JC columnist Jonathan Freedland; Yehoshua by BBC foreign correspondent Lyse Doucet. In between, JBW's most lavish feast yet is expected to attract record numbers.

    Announcing the programme at a launch at the British Museum, JBW's director Geraldine D'Amico drew attention to the eclectic nature of the 2009 event. Highlights include a free ranging evening with the renaissance man's renaissance man, Jonathan Miller, who will be in conversation with Mark Lawson; Simon Schama, revealing how prominently religious fervour features in American history and politics; Frederic Raphael, looking back over a distinguished life in literature, film and scholarship, with Tom Conti reading extracts from Raphael's work; and Alberto Manguel on the myth of the Wandering Jew.

    Schama is not the only stellar Simon to appear — best-selling historian and latterly novelist, Simon Sebag Montefiore, and ever-entertaining classics professor Simon Goldhill will be plying their trades. Professors Susan Greenfield and Lisa Jardine will be discussing human nature. And Michael Winner will be airing his great passion: himself.

    While adults will be able to dip into impressive reservoirs of religion, science, art, literature, humour, history, politics, philosophy and even fashion and food, as always there will be a strong children's element to JBW, with Lynne Reid Banks, Morris Gleitzman, Adele Geras and Joe Friedman among the stars. There will be plenty of interactive opportunities for all ages with reading groups and workshops, not to mention a Yiddish cabaret, and jazz.

    JBW 2009 will be held at the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury.

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